I’m rather fond of bite-sized reviews. They’re particularly handy when I don’t have a lot of thoughts about a book. I KNOW, RIGHT? Imagine me! Wordless! HA. But it does happen occasionally.
These three colourful morsels are either unsolicited review copies or I won them. So thank you Penguin AU and Simon & Schuster! (By the way if you’re Australian, you need to be on the Simon and Schuster facebook page. They do a ton of giveaways and just generally act all-round awesome.)
As usual, I will use eating* gifs because that’s how we roll with mini reviews.
* If you’re new here, mini reviews are like mini pizzas. Delicious and bite-sized. That is all.
NIGHTBIRD by Alice Hoffman
Won from Simon & Schuster (thank you!) Published March 5th, 2015.
This was extraordinary beautiful. I would like to eat this book because it’s just that gorgeous. And also because it’s stuffed to the brim with PIE. The pie descriptions had my mouth watering. Who doesn’t like pie?! And there’s also a recipe in the back which makes me very happy. One day I’m going to make and eat this pie.
But pie aside, the book was still beautiful. It has a really ethereal tone, like you’re literally being sucked into the quaint little town of Sidwell, where there are pies and monsters and secrets. What’s not to love?! I’m a little bit in love with the writing.
It’s narrated by 12-year-old Twig (Teresa) who lives a hermit life because of “THE SECRET”. Now, the secret is plastered on the front cover, but you have to look closely. I did not. (Typical, Cait, just typical.) There are little hints as you read, and I was pretty darn desperate to find out what the Fowler family was hiding. There are sweet friendships, a witch, a curse, a lost father, owls, PIE (what?! It’s a big deal ), and an adorable ending that left me going “AWWWW. MY HEART IS MELTING LIKE WARM BUTTER OVER POPCORN.”
The only thing I didn’t like was the way startling facts were delivered. Every time there was a “big reveal”, it just coasted into the story. I felt there was a build up, but no drama in the delivery. And there was a lot of telling not showing.
Definitely a nice read! I shall have fond memories of this one, folks. It reminded me a lot of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender which I didn’t much like, so this is a much better feathery experience.
THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker
Thank you Simon & Schuster! First published 2014.
If the world really ended…I’m pretty sure it’d be like this: stressful and slow. I had noooo idea what to expect with this one (I thought it was YA, but, um, nope: MG) and I felt like I was reading a very slow, very sad little book. It’s a mixture of a coming-of-age story plus THE APOCALYPSE.
The protagonist, Julia, is a “shy and good girl”. Being a quite, background sort of person myself (in real life, peoples, obviously I am the life of the party online) I related to Julia a lot! Everyone assumed she was stuck up and snobby but NO SHE’S JUST QUIET. I do wish Julia had more character development, though. She didn’t brave up and talk to her crush, she didn’t discover a passion, she just…existed. That makes me sad. Julia narrated like a fly on the wall and I was bored.
…because the story is soooo sloooooow. There’s no action (it’s not that kind of end-of-the-world story), it’s just about people’s lives if the world ended.
Which also lead me to a lot of plot questions, like:
- No one appeared to go hungry. They couldn’t eat veggies or fruit or meat. SO WHAT THE HECK WHERE THEY EATING? Her mum stocked up on peanut butter. I’m totally in favour of life-by-peanut-butter-alone, but surely they ate something else?!
- Since the days ended up being 25 hours long, people just lived off clocks and not by the sun. They abused everyone who didn’t do this…why? I’m sorry, am I missing something?? But in-real-life people do this ANYWAY. It’s called night shift. Not everyone lives by the sun anyway.
- Also the law only applies to some people. There are several accidents in this book, like being caught and taken to prison for growing pot, or being involved in a hit and run. The hit and run didn’t even go to court. The pot-people went to jail for, um, ever. Does the law have favourites?!
The finale happened in like 10 pages and then BOOM, seriously open ending with no conclusion. I’m fine with un-concluded endings, but after crawling through 300+ pages of ALL the itty bitty details of Julia’s life WHY DID THE INTERESTING PART END SO FAST?
It was a good story. Solid. Intriguing. Very, very realistic. But I was 2% emotionally involved.
WHAT IF by Rebecca Donovan
Thank you Penguin! Published January, 2015.
Well…I didn’t like it, but it’s probably a “it’s me not you” sort of deal. It had a lot of intrigue and “BUT-WHAT-AND-WHY-AND-HOW” questions that kept me turning pages. But I felt the characters were flat and immature and I didn’t care about them. For me, it was more aptly titled What If These Orcs Used Their Brains?
- The narrator, Cal, was as interesting as a paper plate. He’s not awesome or handsome, but he goes through girls like they’re disposable sporks. OH WAIT. He does think of them as disposable sporks. He’s in love with his childhood sweetheart(s??) and since he can’t have them, he’ll just serial date knowing he’ll NEVER like any of these girls.
- Until he meets Nyelle! Who looks suspiciously like his childhood sweetheart except a) she doesn’t know who he’s talking and b) she acts nothing like her.
- They’re at college, but studying and classes are for the weak. Apparently “college” is the code word for “FIND LOVE AND DRINKING PROBLEMS”.
- Everyone felt really immature. They’re supposed to be in their 20s but…they sounded 16 half the time.
- Nyelle is one chickpea short of hummus dip. She disturbs me on multiple levels. Like she makes Cal climb a tree with her to eat frosting/icing. She makes Cal and her dress up FOR A PRETEND WEDDING. Which is just soooo weird. And creepy?! She takes Cal’s car without asking. She’s kind of rude, to be honest.
- It flips from “past” to “present”…which I found confusing. Sometimes it’ll flip back and forth in the one chapter and I found it REALLY hard to figure out what was going on/what the time frame was.
- The “big reveal” happened and it was a little (just a little itty bitty bit) anti-climatic. I stuck out with this book to find out why the situation is so screwed up. A LOT OF IT IS TO DO WITH MISCOMMUNICATION. Gah. I hate that.
So I basically didn’t have a good time. I’m not a NA romance fan. This one has a lot of fluffy “awww” moments and it’s very heavily focused on friendships and reminiscing of childhoods, so if NA is your thing: go for it.
WELL. have you read any of these?? plans to? (i recommend Nightbird it’s tasty) and since we’re chatting,i have three questions for you. 1) what’s the BEST pie you’ve ever eaten? 2) what’s one thing you’d hoard in an apocalypse? 3) would you climb a tree to eat icing/frosting?
Cait @ Paper Fury
…is currently considering what she’d stock up on where the world to end. Probably peanut butter. And pumpkin. (She loves pumpkin.) Also pens because everyone loses pens and if they were no longer being made she could make a FORTUNE being a pen-seller. Also, one of her best pie-experiences was an strawberry-rhubarb crumble. It was so delicious.